Sure, there are two Syracuse Orange basketball seasons still in progress right now, but neither of those teams have games today — or for several days — so forgive us for this slight divergence.
Whether you’ve been watching the show or not, you probably know that Marvel’s WandaVision has been the talk of the internet for the last couple months. And with the finale airing over this past weekend, TNIAAM’s comics wing (basically the football staff) wanted to discuss things a bit.
SPOILERS AHEAD, obviously, for those that haven’t seen the finale yet or plan to binge the show in the near future). This is going to look like a “Slack-ing Off” piece, since that’s where this entire conversation took place in the days since we all watched the last episode.
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John: That was predictable but also interesting.
Steve: Yeah, it was how it needed to tie up, without any crazy theories, but also well done.
John: Final stinger was confusing at first, but also sets Doctor Strange 2 up I assume. I still think it’s odd that Doctor Strange didn’t show up. Also where did White Vision go?
Steve: I threw out to Andy that she’s studying the Darkhold to find a way to work her powers to make her kids real again, and that may be the catalyst for the “madness” in Multiverse of Madness. Probably using it to “learn” things, which can only end wonderfully I’d assume.
John: Curious if we get anything with the Westview residents again. Also still think (Tyler) Hayward could be Super Skrull.
Steve: Could be, setting off Secret Invasion?
Christian: Maybe that’s one of things Fury will talk to Monica about. Still really disappointed on how Pietro played out.
Steve: If it wasn’t going to be X-Men, I think it was done well that he was Ralph all along. Still no engineer, FYI.
John: Definitely a long play. I think it has to be either Blue Marvel or Riri Williams (Iron Heart).
So talking more about the bigger picture here...
Christian: My only problem with this show was that it seemed like there were so many potential setups and payoffs that didn’t actually get paid off. If you’re gonna lay those seeds (Jimmy’s missing person, for one) at least make sure those setups get answered.
Andy: Right, the show was supposed to focus on Wanda’s grief and for 7 of 9 weeks, the show purposefully used that as the main reason we’re all there but didn’t actually explain anything while allowing theories to drive week to week.
John: Yeah... do think that’s the biggest trouble with the show approach. And the approach they’re choosing to take with these stingers and all. We always knew each movie was just a marketing vehicle for the next one. The shows may start getting to a point where we can’t properly asses them until we know what they actually set up.
Christian: I think the big trap also is that Marvel can at times struggle with finding the difference between fan service and making a good show. It feels like sometimes it leans too far towards one end of the spectrum. I think for the casuals this was a good show, but for the nerds there were too many Easter eggs that weren’t solved.
John: Yeah. Unfortunately think Avengers: Endgame meant that the ship’s sailed on fan service and all. They saw a movie that was entirely dependent on previous movies and comic Easter egg payoffs become the highest-grossing film of all time. So now why would they do anything else? I mean, the Vision-to-Vision convo was ripped directly from the comics and had people googling what the hell they were talking about all night. That’s a success in that you’re creating buzz. But people start to feel too much like they need Cliffnotes to watch.
Andy: Yup, exactly. But that said, if Marvel wants to tell character-driven stories with high-quality cinematics, they can and did with this one. Feel like the balance of this got shifted because of the Mutants stuff.
John: So some larger questions to guide the rest of this —
- Where (roughly) would you rank this show compared to MCU films?
- Did this show succeed in your eyes?
- Is this hype repeatable?
- Where did this show fall short if not covered above?
Kevin: I’d put WandaVision in a better-than-average category. It was unique and appealed to the casual viewer while also grabbing the interest of the hardcore fans. I’d say it succeeded in drawing in new viewers to the Marvel Universe and showing that this format could be successful for exploring other characters.
Since I’m not as hardcore of a comics fan as others here I think it’s repeatable for the right characters. I think the series format allows for more character development and shows that the stars don’t have to be major pieces of the Marvel Universe. The only complaint I have is that it seems like we were led to believe something bigger would happen and if Marvel is going to use these shows to link movies it would make sense to have more “guest star appearances” to entice the casual viewers to become bigger fans.
Andy: I’d agree it’s definitely better than average. I think comparing TV and movies is always tricky because of the medium and release format. Watching this show all at once gives a very different vibe than the week to week anticipation that was built up. Overall, it was better than a lot of movies and proved marvel can do serialized TV with the middle tier characters who haven’t had movies made about them, and that to me is a huge success for the viability and longevity of the franchise.
My only complaint is that I feel like the show spent too much time early on setting up open ended questions when they should have refocused on Wanda and her grief. I thought that message was core and powerful to this show working, and playing the “what if” game can’t be a show’s primary function for existing week to week.
Christian: I think this show was average. I think the episodic nature of the show allowed Marvel to experiment with storytelling and it was a unique experience but I think the pacing was off and a tad slow at times. Like the others have said, Marvel has proven with this show that it can make compelling stories and generate emotional interest with less popular characters, which is never a bad thing.
The show was a success since I think it does a good job of making people want more. I think the fans got invested in the characters, and fans were genuinely upset that a week’s episode ended, which is good since that keeps retention rate high. This does come with the caveat that the Marvel fans here love that and as the season progressed, the want for more got higher and higher. For the casual fans and new fans that Marvel definitely want to bring in, the show needed to start faster and get to the (typical) Marvel action faster.
It’s hard to say if this is repeatable. I think a lot of the hype that was built around the show was based around this being the first Marvel Studios product to be released in over a year, so the want for Marvel content was high. It seems like each of these upcoming shows are targeting specific genres which can make it harder to attract fans both new and old to tune in. With all the movies and shows that Marvel wants to pump out, it’ll be hard to focus promotion towards a show while another one is going on. Overall I think that means that it’s only going to get harder to replicate the hype.
Other than the pacing and slowness issue, I have the same complaint that the others have is that there were a lot of loose ends not tied up. Part of that is the TV medium, which allows for deeper scrutinization than a movie, which means that a lot of things are going to get picked up. It’s hard to toe the line between making a good product and paying off fan service, but in this case there seemed to be too much setup that fell short for the slightly more invested fans like us. It’d be interesting to hear a casual’s perspective on the supposed “pay offs” and see if they were confused or disappointed at the ending of the show.
Steve: I thought the show was firmly above average. While I beat myself up over theories and Easter eggs, week in and week out, when I took a step back and actually assessed the show for what it was, I was really happy with the ride. The fact my wife, who couldn’t care less about comics also enjoyed it a ton helps the rating as well. She’s not one to get drawn into the Marvel end of anything, but really had a good time with this one.
I think the show succeeded in kicking off Phase 4 and showing that the MCU can be unique again. While it was ultimately a relatively contained story about Wanda’s grief, with a lot of threads that can be interwoven beyond, it got people thinking and got them excited about a Marvel property when I know a good number of people that were suffering from a bit of superhero fatigue lately.
I think the hype’s repeatable, but Marvel is pressing the limit with 22 proposed properties through Phase 4, when we had about that many (23) through the entirety of the MCU to this date. It also used existing and established characters as an anchor, which some of the upcoming movies won’t have the luxury of. I’d assume the Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Loki and Hawkeye will do well, with the prior history. But who knows what Shang Chi, Eternals, etc. can do to sustain the hype train as unknown entities.
I actually just looked at some of the responses from Kevin, Andy and Christian, and they all mention the “What If” rabbit hole that all of the fans of the prior works were sent down during the series. I think this may have hurt the hardcore fan, but had Paul Bettany not said there was an “actor he’s always wanted to work with” that ended up amazingly being himself, or the insistence on people NEEDED a tie in from Reed Richards as the engineer or some of the mutants at some point bringing the X-Men into the universe, especially after “Fietro,” I don’t think the build up and speculation would be as horrible as initially thought. It might have been a perfect storm of egregiously overzealous nerds reading to far into things, which it seems we are quite wont to do.
John: I’d put it around the mid-point. It’s easy to forget after a really impressive run of success during the MCU’s Phase 3 films, that there were plenty of duds in there. And really, even something that fared well like Captain Marvel had a lot of issues. I hate comparing two female-led vehicles to one another, but do feel like WandaVision didn’t have the same shortcomings that movie had with developing Carol Danvers — a great character in the comics, not so much so far in the movies she’s appeared in. WandaVision was weird and unconventional, and yet, it worked.
The show succeeded because it took characters you already knew, and invested more heavily in them — making you want to do so as well. It’s been mentioned that the lull between Marvel properties helped this, and I agree there. But despite high expectations, it still delivered something entertaining when it would’ve been easy to mail it in as Disney+ subscriber fodder.
Marvel wins here because of the aforementioned hype and serialized format. But the mystery of the show itself helped fuel a lot of theories and hype from week to week. Are people going to feel the same about the Falcon and the Winter Soldier, which will be presented as a pretty straightforward action show? I’d say it’s unlikely, but there are also other reasons for fan bases to be engaged beyond perceived weirdness or mystery.
The place where the show falls short is mostly with regard to fan expectations by the end, which had just risen to a fever pitch no show could never live up to. They also potentially squandered a good villain — Agatha — with Disney villain tendencies at the end, and there were a few too many loose ends left untied. A thorough examination of a woman’s — this specific woman’s — grief would’ve been interesting with or without super powers. Do think by the end, they relied too heavily on the powers.
Anyone else have thoughts? Feel free to share below.